ECONOMIC WATCH: Truck tonnage plummets most in 26 years

by Today's Trucking

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. for-hire truck tonnage plummeted 12.2% in April, according to the latest data from the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

“April’s monthly decline was the largest in 26 years when there was a labor strike in
April 1994,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “Considering that April factory output and retail sales plummeted, the large drop in truck freight is not surprising. However, not all fleets saw large declines in April. Those hauling food for grocery stores and those involved in the on-line retail supply chain outperformed most other fleets. Some fleets witnessed very large declines in freight last month.”  

March’s gain was revised down to 0.4% from the originally reported 1.2% increase.

“These historic declines show just how much trucking was impacted by our national response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Costello said. “As the nation starts taking small steps toward reopening, we should see some modest improvements in the freight market, but the size of April’s decline gives us an idea of how long the road back may be.”

Truck tonnage was down 11.3% year-over-year, marking the largest y-o-y decline since early 2009. Year-to-date tonnage is down 1.3%.

(Chart: American Trucking Associations)

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